Thursday, February 23, 2006

HARD FI back the Save Our Centres campaign!

Local band (well to Staines anyway) Hard Fi are backing our campaign to stop the closure of these vital youth & community cnetres in Surrey.

You can keep up to date with the campaign here. Please add your support & thanks to all who have contributed so far.

NOTE - Normal blog service i.e. music & books will be resumed in April after the vital council vote on these proposed closures.

Thursday, February 09, 2006



Surrey CC are seeking to save costs by planning to close four youth & community centres in the Spelthorne area (see list below). These centres host not only youth nights but special needs groups, sports clubs, a spiritualist church, a Baptist church and a nursery, thus playing a key role in local communities. It is a very short sighted and rushed plan, which will hit the wider local community in Ashford and Staines with fewer facilities available for youngsters and other age groups.
YOU can help by e-mailing/writing to the address below and contacting the local press.

Please sign the petition –

If you wish to get involved further, please use the contact details at the foot of this letter.
Save Our Centres patron RUSSELL GRANT
Supporters include local bands HARD-FI & THE HEAL

E-mail for objections. Please cc in all as they form the SURREY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE who recommend how the full council should vote (or just target the leader of Surrey CC Mr Skellett) –,,,,,,,,,

Or in writing -
Mr. N. Skellett, Surrey County Council, Room 250, County Hall, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 2DN by 17 March.

Centres to close (18 in all county wide) -
Ashford youth centre; Leacroft youth centre, Staines; Sunbury youth centre; Thameside youth centre, Staines

For more information please contact or 07952 378271


THE DARKNESS gig review

THE DARKNESS + JULIET LEWIS & THE LICKS + THE ARK Alexandra Palace, London 8th February 2006

First time I have seen a live band at this rather grand venue (which until the 1950’s housed BBC radio stations) and the walk up the hill keeps you fit! First up were Swedish band the Ark – oh dear. The singer seemed to love himself and was showing of his err manly chest at every opportunity. The music was okay, a bit predictable and the singer was sadly crap. He had no depth and they are one of the worst bands I have seen in a long time.

Next up Hollywood actress turned rocker Juliet Lewis. Sadly again not that impressed, the music was good, solid modern punk/indie not a million miles away from say Green Day but Juliet Lewis failed to have the strong vocals needed to rise above the band’s music. I’d stick to the movies love…

Scarily this is the fifth time I have seen the Darkness in concert since first witnessing them supporting Def Leppard back in early 2003. The last time I saw them headlining at Wembley Arena I was disappointed mainly due to the lengthy and rambling onstage banter plus they didn’t have enough songs back then to fill a headliners set having only released one album. Last time Justin Hawkins rode in on a white tiger, as you do but this time he was astride a pair of large flashing breasts! This was to loosely tie-in with the opening track ‘Knockers’. Not a great track to start a gig with but they were soon off and running with a splendid run through ‘Givin’ Up’, ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ and ‘Friday Night’. Biggest cheer of the night went ‘Growing On Me’ – a rocking little number about genital warts. Ballad time saw Justin on the piano singing ‘Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time’ before the band rejoined for ‘Blindman’. Off went Justin’s cat suit and out came his love handles! As he said himself he has ‘filled out’ but he was still leaping and prancing all over the stage like some demented cross between Dave Lee Roth and Max Wall. The stage show was very pyrotechnic with flash bombs, flames and fireworks – Spinal Tap was never this much fun.

New bassist Richie Edwards fitted in nicely and even got solo spot in ‘Black Shuck’, whilst Dan Hawkins in his obligatory Thin Lizzy t-shirt kept the riffs coming all night. Good mix in the crowd from metal heads to lads on the piss via a hen party! Good to see also a six year old giving it the Dio approved devil horns during some of the set urged on by his mum and dad.

Encore time gave us the hard rocking ‘English Country Garden’ with Justin Hawkins playing a mock church organ and the set closed with ‘Bald’ off their latest album. Much better than last time I saw them with Justin Hawkins cutting down on the aimless banter between songs although he doesn’t quite yet work a crowd with ease of say Dave Lee Roth or Paul Rodgers.

Finally a big thank you to my wife & daughter for this surprise birthday present – they are the best!

SQUARE ONE ‘Supersonic’ CD review


The debut release from the rather good Aussie rockers Square One. I have to say I have not heard an album where I like all the songs for a long time (bar the superb new Toto opus). I challenge anyone not to hum ‘Tonight’ after one play or the ultra catchy pop rocker ‘Colour Me Blue’. Musically they mix the harmonies of the Beatles and Cheap Trick with some great guitars – the title track illustrates this amply. Even the two bonus tracks are good, ‘Always With You’ would be an airplay hit if it ever got some airplay. Overall the album reminds you of say Waltham, the better moments of latter day Def Leppard or Nelson. Let the music do the talking and go e-mail the band now at (I paid by Paypal) for payment details and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

STYX ‘Equinox/Crystal Ball’ BGO Records (2006)

The first two Styx albums following their being signed by a major label, A&M get a re-mastered re-releases on BGO complete with sleeve notes and all on one disc! After releasing four albums via the indie label Wooden Nickel and scoring chart success with ‘Lady’ Styx went up a level with ‘Equinox’. Just listen to the wonderful harmonies on ‘Lorelei’, still played live today by the band or ‘Mother Dear’ with the keyboard wizardry of Dennis de Young. A few songs miss the mark notably James Young token rocker ‘Midnight Ride’ but overall the first real essential Styx album in their catalogue.
The follow-up 1976’s ‘Crystal Ball’ saw John Curulewski leave to be replaced by Tommy Shaw, thus creating the classic line-up in many fans eyes. The album starts off with a band with ‘Put Me On’ featuring a heavy guitar, followed by the gentler ‘Mademoiselle’. ‘Jennifer’ is a solid track despite the rather dubious lyrical content about an affair with a 17 year old girl! The title track is the first real Tommy Shaw classic and a song he had from his previous band. It is classic Styx, big harmony filled chorus, lots of guitar and keyboard interplay but all driven by the band’s underlying belief that melody comes first. Dennis de Young shows off his early love of all things Broadway with the album closer ‘Clair De Lune/Ballerina’.
If you don’t have these two albums this is a great chance to get them and for those Styx fans still clinging onto their vinyl copies it is now time to upgrade! Along with ‘Grand Illusion’ these two albums show Styx in all their 70’s glory.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Toby Jepson was the lead singer with the excellent UK rockers Little Angels who achieved chart success in the UK in the late 80's and early 90's. He has since gone solo and you can find out more at his website

1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)

Resting after the Thunder tour! Then putting a comprehensive dvd package together that includes all things Angels as well as my most recent stuff, oh and beginning to write my next record.

2. How did you onto the recent tour with Thunder? What was it like being back on the big stages again?

It was emotional! Last time I played the venues I was selling them out as the singer in the Angels! I have to say it was incredible, the audience reaction was nothing short of astounding every night and I take my hat off to the Thunder boys for managing to keep the flame alive, they rocked hard every night and were absolute gentlemen.

3. Highlights of the recent UK tour with Thunder and Roadstar? Any chance you will appear at this year’s Monsters of Rock festival in June?

Don’t know about monsters of rock, would love to but will wait to be asked…highlights? Far too many…just being able to feel that buzz again at that level and to know that my music has managed to survive after all these years was amazing.

4. Could you take us through your latest release ‘Twisted Rhapsodies’ and some of the ideas/stories behind the songs?

The twisted album is a collection of songs written over the last 10 years that appear on the album in various forms. There are unfinished masters, demo’s, songs written for others, home recordings etc…it shows my working process and also the nature of my musical interests. The album is by no means a fully fledged rock album, I have experimented with various musical forms over the years and this release was an opportunity to give the fans a record that reflected my search. The album I am beginning to make at the moment will be a new start. Twisted represents the end of the beginning if you like.

5. Who made you want to start singing? Anyone you would love to work with in the future if given the chance?

I loved Freddie Mercury, and still do. I wish I had a fraction of his wit, singing ability, and grace as a performer. Others would include David Coverdale, John Lennon. I would love to work with Dave Grohl I think the guy is a phenomenal writer and performer. Also Jon Bon Jovi, he was THE nicest guy I met and worked with in the Angels days and was and still is a huge talent.

6. Why did Little Angels call it a day and what were the live highlights with the band?

This ground is to heavily trodden and laboured to give a clear answer. Suffice to say we had reached the end of our journey. I loved every minute of being in that band…apart from the breaking up bit!

7. Would you ever consider reforming Little Angels or are you happy enough to play the Little Angels tunes as part of your solo touring?

I would never reform the band. Full stop. I love the songs and love performing them, but I don’t want to live on my past forever, it is the creation of new music that interest me now and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

8. Which song(s) do you enjoy performing most live and why?

Don’t have specific favorite, I love them all. I don’t perform the ones I DON’T like!

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Being with my family, Watching movies, wine, building stuff….

10. Message to your fans...

Love is what drives me to keep making music. Respect yourselves and respect to you from me for always being there. I exist because you want me to.

Peace is what I do it for.

Monday, February 06, 2006

This blog is one year old!

Yes my blog is now one year old. Thanks for all the views and feedback. The main aim has always been to get the word out on music & books I have enjoyed and think others may enjoy as well.
Any feedback as ever always welcome plus any good pointers on music and books to check out.

LEMMY ‘Damage Case’ review

(Double CD 2006) Castle/Sanctuary Sanctuary Records

There are countless Motorhead compilations and live CD’s out there – many of poor quality, so you’d think yet another one would not be needed. But this is more about Lemmy and his varied solo output plus a few choice Motorhead gems. To be honest some tracks really are for the Lemmy/Motorhead completist only like his early recorded work with the Rockin’ Vicars and Sam Gopal. The less said about the Young and Moody Band’s ‘Don’t Do That’ the better as it features a couple of the Nolan sisters but I guess when you are Lemmy you do what you damn well want! But there are some real gems on here like his guest appearance on the Damned’s cover of the Sweet classic ‘Ballroom Blitz’ – you can easily spot Lemmy’s thunderous bass on this one. His infamous duet with Wendy O Williams on ‘Stand By Your Man’ is one you will either love or hate, whilst Motorhead’s ‘1916’ is a classic and a rare chance to hear Lemmy sing melodically! Highlights for me bar the Headgirl classic ‘Please Don’t Touch’ are the three tracks on here Lemmy recorded with Stray Cats members Slim Jim Phantom and Danny B. Good, honest classic rock ‘n’ roll, something Lemmy has always loved and of course Motorhead are a rock ‘n’ roll band in his view.
Damn fine compilation for the avid Motorhead fan out there and the rock ‘n’ roll music is the biggest eye opener and enjoyable highlight on here aside from the Hawkwind and Motorhead tracks.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

THUNDER gig review

THUNDER + TOBY JEPSON + ROADSTAR Hamersmith Odean, Saturday 4th February 2006

First time I have seen a gig at the Apollo with the seats out and strangely no-one in the circle, whether this is due to fire limits on the number of people I am not sure. Anyway Roadstar (Hurricane Party as was) played a short 20 minute set and they seemed to go down well with the crowd. They aren't bad at what they do - straight ahead riff rock not a million miles away from classic 70's era Quo. The singer is a cross between the Cult's Ian Astbury and the fey antics of Mick Jagger. But they really need to get their debut album out pronto to build on the obvious live following they have built up.
Former Little Angels singer Toby Jepson played set geared towards Little Angel classics although the newer material he played was very good as well. Great to hear 'Boneyard', 'Kickin' Up Dust' and 'Too Much Too Young' again and played with such passion by his back-up band. Hopefully he will tour again soon, meanwhile I am off to play some Little Angels :)
Thunder have a very large and passionate following. Trends and bands may go but you always know you will get entertained at a Thunder show. The band play with ease and Danny Bowes is on the best singers and frontmen around, working the audience with ease. The newer songs like the sing-a-long 'I Love You More Than Rock 'n' Roll' easily stand up to classics such as 'Higher Ground' and theit power ballad 'Love Walked In'. The crowd loved it and so too did the band by the looks of things. Danny Bowes still has the voice - just listen to 'Like A Satellite' for proof and in Luke Morely you have the archetypal rock guitarist - lost of style with talent to back it up.
Encore time saw Roadstar and Toby Jepson back on stage for a run through Elton John's 'Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting' - mayhem on the stage with so many band members around and the Roadstar vocalist was lucky not to clock someone with his swinging mike! 'Dirty Love' closed the show and a great night of hard rock music. Nothing too fancy just good, solid well played tunes and long may Thunder contine! Great to see Toby Jepson again after a long time as well.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Original ASIA to reform!

Great news indeed as the original ASIA line-up reunite (Steve Howe/John Wetton/Carl Palmer/Geoff Downes). Their first two albums - 'Asia' & 'Alpha' - are 'must haves' for any rock fans collection. Quite what will happen with the current ASIA line-up who feature John Payne (whose now been in Asia longer than his predesscor John Wetton) and Geoff Downes is open to question...

From the John Wetton wesbite

The response to the Asia 25th anniversary news has been overwhelming to say the very least! To further feed the frenzy, we can now confirm that the original four Asia members (Downes, Howe, Palmer, Wetton) will indeed be recording a CD and DVD as well as planning a world tour to celebrate this milestone with their fans. Stay tuned to CTD for the very latest info.

Message from John Wetton

"It is the intention of all 4 original members, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, and John Wetton, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the creation of 'ASIA.'
All four wish to convey their heartfelt thanks for the global support, love and enthusiasm that has made this possible".
31 January 2006
eXTReMe Tracker Site Meter Image hosting by Photobucket